Change the color of a shape, shape border, or entire SmartArt graphic

You can modify a SmartArt graphic to change the color of specific shapes, specific shape borders, or even change the colors for the whole graphic.

In this article


Overview of changing colors in a SmartArt graphic

You can use colors to enhance the message in your SmartArt graphic. For example, to show that every step in a process is different, you could apply Colorful - Accent Colors.

Change Colors Gallery

Or you could use Gradient Range Accent 1 to underline the direction of your message for a linear process.

Change Color Gallery with Gradient Range - Accent 1 selected

You can change the colors of all the shapes in your SmartArt graphic by applying a different color combination. Color thumbnails show the different ways colors are applied (such as, alternating, or darkest to lightest), instead of how colors are used.

You can also apply colors from your document's theme colors (theme colors: A set of colors that is used in a file. Theme colors, theme fonts, and theme effects compose a theme.) to your SmartArt graphic, and the color variations automatically match the colors that are used in your slide or document. If you change the document theme, your SmartArt graphic will also reflect the new theme colors.

You can create an effect of gradually changing color by applying a gradient to an object, so that its color varies smoothly from a darker to a lighter shade. You can also use a gradient to give the shapes in your graphic a rainbow effect.

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Change the color of a shape

  1. Click the shape in the SmartArt graphic that you want to change.

If you want to change multiple shapes to the same color, click the first shape, and then press and hold CTRL while you click the other shapes.

  1. Under SmartArt Tools, on the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click the arrow next to Shape Fill, and then click the color that you want. To choose no color, click No Fill.

The Format tab under SmartArt Tools.
The Format tab under SmartArt Tools in PowerPoint 2010

If you do not see the SmartArt Tools or Format tabs, make sure that you have selected a SmartArt graphic. You might have to double-click the shape to open the Format tab.

To change to a color that is not in the theme colors (theme colors: A set of colors that is used in a file. Theme colors, theme fonts, and theme effects compose a theme.), click More Fill Colors, and then either click the color that you want on the Standard tab, or mix your own color on the Custom tab. Custom colors and colors on the Standard tab are not updated if you later change the document theme (theme: A set of unified design elements that provides a look for your document by using color, fonts, and graphics.).

 Notes 

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Change the color of a shape border

  1. Click the shape that has the border that you want to change.

If you want to change multiple shape borders to the same color, click the first shape, and then press and hold CTRL while you click the other shapes.

  1. Under SmartArt Tools, on the Format tab, in the Shape Styles group, click the arrow next to Shape Outline, and then click the color that you want. To hide the border, click No Outline.

The Format tab under SmartArt Tools.
The Format tab under SmartArt Tools in PowerPoint 2010

If you do not see the SmartArt Tools or Format tabs, make sure that you have selected a SmartArt graphic. You might have to double-click the shape to open the Format tab.

To change to a color that is not in the theme colors (theme colors: A set of colors that is used in a file. Theme colors, theme fonts, and theme effects compose a theme.), click More Outline Colors, and then either click the color that you want on the Standard tab, or mix your own color on the Custom tab. Custom colors and colors on the Standard tab are not updated if you later change the document theme (theme: A set of unified design elements that provides a look for your document by using color, fonts, and graphics.).

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Change the color of an entire SmartArt graphic

  1. Click the SmartArt graphic.
  2. Under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the SmartArt Styles group, click Change Colors, and then click the thumbnail that you want.

The Design tab under SmartArt Tools
The Design tab under SmartArt Tools in PowerPoint 2010

If you do not see the SmartArt Tools or Design tabs, make sure that you have selected a SmartArt graphic. You might have to double-click the shape to open the Format tab.

 Notes 

  • To see how a color will be applied to your SmartArt graphic before you select a thumbnail, place your pointer over the thumbnail that you want, and then look at your SmartArt graphic.
  • To ensure that your document will look good printed in black and white, click a thumbnail under Primary Theme Colors.

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Applies to:
Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Word 2010